Our favorite stewed cabbage recipe, this is the simplest way of cooking cabbage. A healthy, easy-to-make, vegan dish that can be served on its own or as a side dish.
This easy stewed cabbage dish is probably the simplest way of cooking cabbage. And it tastes absolutely amazing, you will love it!
You can also call it Varza Calita, as it is a typical vegan or fasting dish eaten in Romania all through the year, I think my grandma used to cook it at least every two weeks. Why?
- Delicious: You can even get your kids into eating vegetables, the cabbage stew is hearty yet it has a slightly sweet touch, it’s soft and comforting.
- Economical: No matter the season, the ingredients needed for this recipe are always very cheap.
- Healthy: There is not one item I would call unhealthy in this recipe. It’s also vegan.
- Versatile: It makes a delicious meal on its own when served with polenta, potatoes or bread. Or it makes a good side for pork, sausages, beef, even chicken.
- White cabbage: either regular round one or sweetheart cabbage, they both taste great. Sweetheart cabbage might cook a little faster, check about 5-10 minutes earlier.
- Vegetables: onion, red bell pepper, carrots, tomato.
- Spices: dried savory (or thyme), fine sea salt and black pepper.
- Other ingredients: sugar, tomato paste, sweet paprika powder, red wine vinegar, fresh parsley.
- Chop the cabbage: quarter it, remove the core and cut it into small pieces. Set aside (1).
- Chop the rest of the veggies (onion, pepper, carrots, tomato), but keep them all separated, as they come into the pot at different times (2).
- Saute onions in oil for a few minutes. Add peppers and carrots and saute for another 2-3 minutes (3).
- Add tomato, paprika, tomato paste, and sugar and stir for 2 minutes (4,5).
- Add about 1/2 of the chopped cabbage (6). You will have to add it in 2-3 batches (depending on the size of your pot) as there is too much of it.
- Add savory, stir well and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the first batch of white cabbage wilts.
- Now you will have enough room in the pot to add the rest of the cabbage (7). Stir well and let wilt again for a few minutes.
- Add a splash of water, stir well, cover tighthly, so that the steam can’t escape.
- Cook on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until very tender (8).
- Stir quickly a few times in between, but don’t let too much steam escape.
- Adjust the taste with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately or reheated.
- Chop the cabbage before you start cooking, it takes a few minutes and you don’t want to stress yourself that the onions might get too dark before you are finished with chopping the cabbage.
- When adding the cabbage to the pot, do that in 2 or 3 batches, the cabbage needs a lot of place at the beginning. Add the next batch of cabbage when the previous one has wilted making more room for the remaining cabbage.
- Stir often during the cabbage frying process.
- Add only the recommended amount of water. It might seem too little, but it is fine. The cabbage will release some liquid as well.
- The cabbage should stew in its own liquid and it will not be too bad if it catches slightly at the bottom of the pot (but only slightly). That makes the stewed cabbage even sweeter and tastier.
- Stir a few times in between, but do it quickly and cover again immediately to prevent losing too much steam from the pot.
- The red wine vinegar imparts the stewed cabbage a fruitier taste.
Refrigerate in the cooking pot with the lid on or in an airtight container, it will be fine for 3-4 days.
Cabbage stew tastes even better each time you reheat it. Reheat in the pot on the stovetop, stirring often. Add a small splash of water if necessary.
How to serve?
- We always have stewed cabbage as a main dish with white bread or polenta (in Romania).
- In Germany, many people would serve stewed cabbage with boiled potatoes.
- If you wish, you can serve the cabbage as a side dish for pork, beef, chicken, roast duck or goose.
More cabbage recipes
And just as proof of how much I love cabbage and how often I cook it, you might want to have a look at some of the following recipes. First of all, one of my most cooked German cabbage recipes – the German Red Cabbage.
And how about a traditional Polish recipe: Sauerkraut Stew with Pork and Sausages – Polish Bigoz Recipe. And other meaty cabbage dishes would be this German Savoy Cabbage Soup with Ground Meat and Potatoes or this Pork, Rice and Cabbage Stew – Gipsy Recipe Sah Has Mai.
Or here are some more vegetarian cabbage dishes: Easy Cabbage Noodles with Sour Cream and Dill or Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls with Millet, Tomatoes and Feta.
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- 1 white cabbage about 1,5 kg/ 3.5 lbs, Note
- 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 large carrot
- 1 large tomato
- 2 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried savory
- 1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar to taste
- 1 small bunch of parsley
- fine sea salt and black pepper
- Prepare cabbage: Quarter the cabbage and remove the core. Chop the cabbage into small pieces; they don't have to be extremely fine. Set aside. Finely chop the onion.
- Chop the pepper, carrot, and tomato. Keep the vegetables separated, they have different cooking times.
- Saute: Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Cook the onions until translucent. Add the pepper and the carrot and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato, tomato paste, sweet paprika, and sugar and stir for about 2 minutes.
- Start adding the cabbage as much as it fits in the pot (2-3 batches, depending on the size of the pot). Add the dried savory as well. Stir well to coat with the rest of the ingredients and let cook for a few minutes until the cabbage wilts down a bit.
- Add the rest of the cabbage, stir again and add just a little water, about 50 ml/ scant ¼ cup.
- Simmer: Stir again, cover very tightly and cook on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until the cabbage is tender.
- Stir a few times in between, but do it quickly and cover again immediately to prevent losing too much steam from the pot. The cabbage should stew in its liquid, and it will not be too bad if it catches slightly at the bottom of the pot (but only slightly). That makes the stewed cabbage even sweeter and tastier.
- Adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar for a fruitier taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.
- The dish can be easily reheated.